Hebrews 9:23 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Hebrews 9:23, NIV: It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

Hebrews 9:23, ESV: Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

Hebrews 9:23, KJV: It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

Hebrews 9:23, NASB: Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these things, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

Hebrews 9:23, NLT: That is why the Tabernacle and everything in it, which were copies of things in heaven, had to be purified by the blood of animals. But the real things in heaven had to be purified with far better sacrifices than the blood of animals.

Hebrews 9:23, CSB: Therefore, it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves to be purified with better sacrifices than these.

What does Hebrews 9:23 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Earlier, the writer of Hebrews explained how the components of the old covenant were meant to symbolize the truths found in the new covenant. At the same time, those sacrifices and rituals had drawbacks which, themselves, were meant to point towards a better resolution to our sin. Since God promised a new covenant, it stands to reason that the new covenant is superior to the old. Key to that symbolism and comparison is the shedding of blood. As prior verses indicated, blood is necessary for the forgiveness of sins. Animal sacrifice, however, can only go so far in atoning for human sin. Christ's sacrifice can completely save, since it has power which animal blood does not.

When this verse refers to the "copies" of heavenly things, this is another reference to how the physical components of the old covenant are meant to be symbolic of the ministry of Jesus Christ. In short, both covenants were established by the shedding of blood, but the sacrifice of the new covenant is a superior sacrifice (Hebrews 9:9–14), and it is offered in a superior place (Hebrews 8:2).